MEMPHIS, Tenn.– The Memphis city council is taking steps to explore how to help young people and tackle crime with a new resolution that would look at opening a curfew center in the city, a safe place where young people who are out too late can be taken.
Memphis has a curfew law that states any minor 16 or younger must be off the street by 10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and by 11 p.m. Fridays – Sundays. Those age 17 get one extra hour, and there are some exceptions for minors who are employed or accompanied by a parent.
But Memphis police say they don’t have the resources to enforce the curfew.
Memphis City Councilwoman Rhonda Logan has sponsored a resolution requesting Memphis Police to enforce the curfew and work with city administration on a proposal to open one or more curfew centers.
“I want to make certain that everyone understands this resolution asks for a curfew center. Not a detention center, not a juvenile jail. It’s a curfew center, it’s something as simple as that. We already have on the books that if they are breaking curfew they go to juvenile court. Well, there are so many reasons why a child could be out and it doesn’t always mean crime,” she said.
Logan said the centers could be a positive addition to the community.
“We could look at putting therapists, counselors, wrap-around services, recreation overnight. It can be a positive,” she said.
The resolution cites cities like Philadelphia and Minneapolis that have curfew centers.
MPD said right now one of the biggest things is where do officers take juveniles when their parents aren’t home. Juvenile Court doesn’t have the resources to take children due to curfew violations alone.
“We do not have all the resources in the police department in order to properly enforce this curfew, curfew violations as needed. I think with the resolution, if that’s approved then I think that would help us greatly,” said Memphis Police Deputy Chief Sam Hines.
Councilman JB Smiley says the council should approach the legislation with caution.
“I’m always cautious when we pass legislation specifically targeting a particular group of people that we don’t find ourselves in a slippery slope,” he said.
The council is set to take on the issue again in two weeks.